Wow. I must be awfully naive, but I really never thought the Christoph Büchel vs MassMOCA lawsuit would go in this direction:
Here’s one thing I know as someone who’s been kicking around the art world for a little bit:
As an artist, you expect that museums will play fair and be nice. You take in stride that you might get jerked around by critics, commercial galleries, collectors, other artists, and so on. But somehow you expect more from museums. And then something like this happens.
I’m really curious to see how Jenny Holzer reacts to all this. She is certainly a big enough art name that she could pull out of her upcoming show with no damage to her career, but will she? She must have been working on this exhibit for months if not years; as miserable a situation as all this has turned out to be, there is a tiny corner of myself that can understand if she doesn’t cancel. Artists make all sorts of sacrifices in order to show their work… right? This is just another one of the indignities that artists face in the long road that is exhibiting… … right? In a situation like this, you just take a deep breath and go through the show like a trooper – the professional artist that you are…
Ugh, dear god. This whole situation makes me want to vomit. I am really keeping my fingers crossed that Holzer either cancels her show or is rushing off to the neon fabricator right now to have new huge text pieces that read THIS IS THE WORST MUSEUM EVER or DEMAND YOUR ADMISSION MONEY BACK so she can install them for the show.
Be thankful, at least, that it is Holzer coming up next. Someone with the kind of art world collateral that she has does have the actual option of cancelling or putting together a protest show. What would be even more heartbreaking is if there was a younger, less established artist scheduled in the next slot. Stuck between a gallery screaming at you to go ahead with the show, the museum screaming at you to be done already and whatever your own feelings are on the Büchel case… well, that’s a horrible situation to be in. Ugh. Good lord.
Quick update… thanks to Anaba for this link…
In one of the grossest/strangest distortions of Web 2.0 that I’ve seen in a while, MassMOCA now has a blog about the court case. Don’t let the format fool you; it may look like a blog and the great new day of the internet dawning in which readers collaborate (collaborate!!) with the creator of the site in order to create content… but it’s not. Instead, it’s an authoritarian FAQ about the court case (ok, understandable to a certain extent) followed by a very creepy comment section (ok, totally NOT understandable!! alarms blaring!!) to “discuss” the case. Suspiciously, there are only three comments and all are pro-MassMOCA.
The easy thing to do in this situation is to post a pro-Büchel comment and see if MassMOCA pulls it. I’m wondering if it would just be way more fun to do something like have 50 of us all hit the site and put really intense, well-thought-out arguments up there all at once and make an archive of what those comments are and… do something with them. I don’t know. I’m open for suggestions.